ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Former Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia fell in the short program Thursday and dropped out of the European figure skating championships with a back problem.

The 2006 Olympic gold medalist fell while trying to execute a triple axel and placed sixth in the short program.

He scratched for Saturday's free skate.

Plushenko said upon arrival this week in Zagreb, Croatia, that he had a back problem. He underwent treatment in Munich in November for a herniated disc.

After numerous injuries, Plushenko is trying to revive his career for the 2014 Sochi Olympics at home in Russia.

Plushenko is a three-time world champion and a seven-time European champion. He also has two Olympic silver medals.